Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Aksu-Zhabagly 6th August

We arrived in a cloud of heat and dust at our camp site near the canyon at Asku-Zhabagly.

With the walk, I thought the options were either going over the hill and a three hundred metre walk down the south (sunny) side of the canyon with an icy cold river waiting at the bottom, or staying with Asima, no walking, but heat unrelenting through the afternoon.

With misgivings I chose the river.  Turns out that, while it was three hundred metres straight down, the path down was a little further than that. I hadn't been able to find any bandaids in the morning so I'd stayed in my Birkenstocks thinking them the lesser evil to blisters from the other shoes.

On the slope with loose dirt and rocks I could barely keep my feet under me. I ended up falling well behind the others (to avoid falling on my arse and covering myself with broken bones and gravel rash) and I was hot past the point of talking once I caught up at the bottom. Reaching the bottom, I slipped off my sandals and stepped straight into the river hoping that either I was imagining the enormous blister under each big toe or that the freezing water would make them magically disappear.

We ate lunch and played in and by the water for a few hours. There was the requisite amount of splashing people, pretending to push people in and mucking about. It was so cold that going under for just a few seconds set your hands to shaking and your teeth to chattering. I was reluctant to start back and leave the delicious green-icy chill.

I made heavy going of it on the way back. The few people who'd stayed to the last kept waiting for me. When we came to a shady cave and I felt like I would die if I didn't cool down, I told the others to go on and come back and look for me if I didn't turn up in an hour.

I sat in the cave for half an hour before I started to feel less hysterical with the heat. I wanted to stay until it got dark (I had my kindle with me) but I'd given the time limit deliberately and I only had one last mouthful of water in the bottle.

As I left the cave I heard my name echoing down the canyon in an Argentinian accent. I called back and the shout went up that I'd been found.

My first response was irritation because I still had half an hour left. Then I saw my hot dusty rescuers and felt guilty. They'd been calling down and, when I'd not answered, had started to worry. So Juan, in spite of blisters and lack of water, had come back for me. The more I thought about it, the mote grateful I was (am) to be travelling with such a fabulous group of people where no one gets left behind. If you can't crawl, well you know the rest.

We are driving today towards the Uzbeki border.

No comments: